Readers sometimes treat Revelation’s word pictures as a code designed to hide the author’s meaning from all but selected insiders. But the primary function of the imagery is to reveal, not to conceal. Word pictures offer a way of seeing the character of God, the world, and the community of faith. The writer portrays Jesus as the slaughtered Lamb in order to emphasize the sacrificial quality of his work, not to mask his identity. Similarly, the comment that the whore sits on seven hills makes clear that the image characterizes life under imperial Rome; this link to Rome would have been apparent to most ancient readers (17:9). Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary by Craig R. Koester, p. 139.